On Baked Beans…and Half-Baked Picks

Is it just me, or do you also get the feeling that this is one of the worst weeks in the careers of Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper?

After all, Hurricane Irene must have been a tremendous disappointment for them, don’t you think?

As soon as word filtered down that a big storm was on the way, you can bet that old Wolf was sporting a week-long perma-woody over the prospects of all the doom and gloom reporting he’d get to do. 

And, like the Viagra commercials suggest, he dutifully called his doctor about his “firmth’ every four hours, all week long.  Not because he felt he was in any medical danger…but because he couldn’t find anyone else who was remotely interested in seeing or hearing about “Little Wolfie.”

Meanwhile, Anderson Cooper could be seen scurrying around a variety of New York City locations, conducting a desperate week-long survey for the best possible places to chain himself and do manly live “stand-up” reports, when the big one struck.  “Nope…that’s too sheltered.  It wouldn’t muss up my Man From Glad hair helmet enough to look dangerous.”

And so, after days of practising his best sombre face poses in front of the 8 foot mirror in his dressing room, Wolf couldn’t help feeling hugely let down when Hurricane Irene was downgraded to a lousy tropical storm when it hit New York Sunday morning.

And imagine how poor old Anderson felt.  After days of practising the fine art of standing at a 23 degree angle, while trying to look manly, in the howling wind tunnels at the Kennedy Space Centre (hey what else does NASA have to do after cancelling the Shuttle program?), you can understand if he felt a little deflated by the whole tropical storm thing, can’t you?

Kind of like hoping for a squadron of GI Joe action figures, with Kung Fu grip, on Xmas morning…only to discover a single Barbie doll with a bent tiara under the tree.

Meanwhile, across the river in New Jersey, the PGA Tour hoity-toits running the Barclays must have been watching events unfold with the exact opposite kinds of reaction.  Mind-numbing dread, versus giggling like school girls anticipation.

You can bet the PGA boys were pulling for a full-tilt meteorological fizzle every bit as hard as Wolf and the Mole were hoping to cover Armageddon and wrap their mitts on a Pulitzer or a Peabody or a Buckeye News Hawk Award. 

Okay, maybe not as hard as Wolf.

And so, rather than risking a recreation of that immortal scene from Caddyshack, when greens keeper Carl Spackler loops Bishop Pickering through a storm worthy of the end of days, the Tour muckety-mucks decided to pull the plug a day early and shorten the Barclays to just 54 holes. 

“Nice round Dustin…here’s your trophy…OKAY EVERYONE, LET’S GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE…NOW!!!”

No need to introduce the New York fans to playing conditions akin to a moderately brisk day at the Welsh Open, right?  And beer sales would probably suck.

Unfortunately, all of my predictions for this tournament were based on the guys playing a full 72 holes…and not a Senior Tour schedule.

Yes, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.  If only they could have played another day, then surely Matt, Luke, Steve and yes, even Adam, would have lapped the rest of the field in the final round and then duked it out in a thrilling 4-man, sudden-death playoff to decide the first leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

Alas…that damned Irene ruined everything.  Just see for yourself:

Results – The Barclays

Derek’s Picks D&D (Daughter & Dartboard)
Steve Stricker


 $          61,900 Phil Mickelson


 $              23,840
Luke Donald


 $         100,800 Heath Slocum


Matt Kuchar


 $         864,000 John Merrick


 $              23,840
Adam Scott


 $          16,320 Brendan Steele


This Week’s Total  $      1,043,020 This Week’s Total  $              47,680
Season Total  $    16,374,318 Season Total  $         5,475,654

Oh well…at least Matt grinned his way through 54 holes and scored a solid second for me.

The Deutsche Bank Championship

The Playoffs head eastward this week, to the TPC at Boston.  One of my favourite cities in the world, Boston.  I have a ton of cousins who live in there…and always loved going down for a visit. 

It was always a place that caused a great deal of puzzlement to me.  All of my cousins absolutely tortured the English language and consistently talked like they were trying to force their words around an oversized wad of gum (like 3 or 4 packages worth).  You know what I mean…all that “Pahk the Cah in the Hahvahd Yahd” stuff.  Yes…they all really talked like that.

And yet, these people seemed to take endless pleasure in listening to me say “out” and “about” (correctly I might add)…as if I were Steve Martin’s bastard son on his first day of school, raising my hand and asking the teacher if I could “mambo dogface to the banana patch.”

For the less worldly reading this column, “Deutsche” means “German.”  Despite the way many of the locals living around this venue pronounce it, the tournament sponsors have absolutely nothing to do with feminine hygiene products. 

‘Nuff said.  Glad we cleared that up.

Despite what you might expect of a Playoff venue, with huge bucks on the line, the course superintendents and PGA staff aren’t treating this like a Major and tricking up the course with tight fairways, thigh-high rough and bikini-waxed greens.  Quite the opposite, actually. 

In fact, the host course for the Deutsche Bank was the 3rd easiest course the PGA Tour visited in all of 2010. Meaning that the one thing you should expect to see this week at the TPC Boston is some very low scores and dramatic swings on the leaderboard.

Last year’s finish is a great example.  Charley Hoffman put together a fantastic closing-round 62 to leapfrog many players and win the thing by 5 strokes at -22.

My philosophy for this week’s tournament is almost identical to the way I conjured up my picks for the Barclays last week.  In fact, at the risk of appearing to be lazy, unimaginative, uninspired, redundant, or drunk…all of my picks, except one, are holdovers from last week’s event. 

If you’re looking for something more creative, I’d encourage you to read what presidential hopefuls Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry have to say about evolution.  Now there’s some entertaining reading!

Derek’s Picks

Steve Stricker – Even though the FedEx Cup Playoffs have only been around for 4 years, the Deutsche Bank Championship has been played at the TPC Bahston for the past 9 seasons.  And in that time, there aren’t really any players who have distinguished themselves as well on this track as Steve Stricker.

Since 2006, the worst Stricker has done at this event was place 13th back in 2008.  He also finished 9th last year, 9th in 2007 and 7th in 2006.  And, he won the whole thing in 2009.  Been there, done that, got the t-shirt and a lovely trophy…along with enough money to buy the Dominican Republic and then carpet it.

Stricker’s T24 finish at the Barclays was a bit disappointing for sure.  If he could have shaved one more stroke off his score, it would have been his 12th consecutive top 20 finish this season.  In fact, it was the slowest Playoff start Stricker has ever had.

Still though, I don’t think that’s any reason to give up on “Mr. September” quite yet.  After all, September hadn’t even started yet…but it will have, by the time the guys hit the first tee on Friday.

Luke Donald – You’ll probably be surprised to learn this, but Luke Donald’s record for starting the PGA Playoffs over the years is almost the mirror image of Steve Stricker’s. 

Donald’s T18 finish last weekend at the Barclays was actually his second best  performance in the first leg of the FedEx Cup race…beaten only by last year’s marginally better T15th finish.  And remember, Luke finished the FedEx Cup Playoffs in 3rd place overall last season, just behind Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar…pocketing a cool $2 million for his efforts.

Last year Donald followed up his T15 performance at the Barclays with a T2 at the Deutsche Bank.  And, if not for that miraculous Sunday 62 by Hoffman, Donald would have found himself in a 3 or 4-man playoff for the trophy at day’s end.

This is a course that seems better suited to his laser-guided iron game and red hot putter…so, based on his recent history on this track, plus his stellar 2011 season, it would be kind of silly to punt him now.  I’m counting on him to finish at least top 5 this week…if not win it altogether.

Matt Kuchar – He was oh so close to making me look like a genius last Saturday.  Just a few slips on the back nine, prevented him from overcoming Dustin Johnson’s late heroics and successfully defending his title in New Joisey.

Rather than being dismayed by this result, I think Kuchar will be mightily inspired to feed off it and improve his standings by one more notch with a win this week in Boston. 

He played well here last year, following up his Barclays win with a solid T11 finish the week after.  He also posted another top 15 finish in this event the year before that.  I don’t think it’s at all unreasonable to think that he’s got a really good shot at walking away with a winner’s cheque this week in Beantown. 

Jason Day – Scott out, Day in.  That’s the big change in strategy from last week’s picks.  I‘m trading an Aussie for an Aussiein my final slot this week.  It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but last week’s results tipped the scales in Day’s favour…just.

Day is coming off a very nice T13 finish at last week’s Barclays…compared to Scott’s T68 performance.  As far as last year’s results in Boston go, it’s almost a draw.  Day finished T2 at -17, while Scott was one stroke behind in a tied for 5th place.  I give the edge to Day, because he played this course the best over the first 3 days…and held or shared the lead in each of them, before Hoffman’s 62 closed out the field.

Jason’s T2 performances at the first two Majors this season show how well he handles big pressure.  And his top 5 finishes at the Player’s Championship and WGC Bridgestone confirmed it…just in case there were any lingering doubts.  He’s young, but he handles the spotlight in the big events like a season pro with many more years of experience under his belt.

I’m looking for Day to turn in a real breakthrough performance this week in Boston.

Before I pass things over to D&D this week, there is one other player who is worth a careful look…and is very deserving of some huge cheers.  Vijay Singh.  To many people, it might have seemed like an outrageously stupid prognostication if I had mentioned him seriously 6 or 8 months ago…but  Singh is making a really exciting comeback to form as this season winds down.  His T3 finish at the Barclays last week was a refreshing glimpse of the Vijay of old…and might just be the impetus he needs to get back into the winner’s circle again. 

And he plays well in Boston too.  He won the event in 2008, finished 2nd in 2006 and T11 last year.  Unfortunately, according to that pattern, he only plays well here on even-numbered years…and here we are in 2011.  Still though, he might just surprise a lot of people with a great finish this week.

And now that I’ve had my say, it’s time to turn things over to my little girl and her darts.

D&D’s Picks (Daughter & Dartboard):

  • ·         Chad Campbell
  • ·         Harrison Frazar
  • ·         Charl Schwartzel
  • ·         Camilo Villegas

And that’s it for this week folks.  Thanks very much for reading and playing along…and enjoy the tourney!



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